NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Now that Mardi Gras is over, some people wonder what to do with all those beads. An Irish Channel school wants all the beads you can give.
Elizabeth McKeon is focused.
"I'm separating long beads, collecting and looking for other stuff," she said.
She gets paid to sift through bundles of beads, looking for ones that match in length. When she finds 12 similar strands, they get stapled, stacked and bagged.
She filled a lot of bags before Mardi Gras.
"We sold out early this year," McKeon said. "People called and we were sold out completely."
And the end of Carnival season only means more work for the adult students at St. Michael Special School. They spend hours in the Joy Center every day going through bag after bag of beads donated by parade-goers.
The school sells the throws back to riders, recycling them for another round of fun.
"What this does for the Joy Center is it provides a means of earning funds to keep this program viable and going, and to make it an affordable option for parents of adult-age special needs clients," said Principal Susan Munster.
While this may look like a lot of beads, the school could use so many more. The school would like to fill all of these empty bins because they're getting more orders every day.
St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's days are coming up in a few weeks. There's also a Latin American parade seeking beads in the fall.
"We encourage everyone to clean out their attics, clean out the backs of their cars, and instead of just throwing those beads into the trash can, come bring them to St. Michael and give our clients the opportunity to repurpose those beads and to do the wonderful productive work that we do here," Munster said.
It's work that McKeon loves.
"It's fun to get out of the house for the whole day and come here and be with all your friends," she said.
The joy of Carnival never ends here. You can drop off beads at the school at 1522 Chippewa Street Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.